Chris Scott and his team in the lab

Chris Scott and his team in the lab.

Project details

Researcher: Professor Christopher Scott

Location: Queen's University Belfast

Project title: Finding new ways to stop triple negative breast cancer spreading

Research theme: Secondary breast cancer

The challenge

When breast cancer spreads around the body it becomes incurable. Triple negative breast cancer tends to be more aggressive and harder to treat than other types of breast cancer, and therefore more likely to spread and become incurable. We need to find better ways to stop triple negative breast cancer from spreading and taking lives.

The science behind the project

In this project, Professor Scott and his PhD student will examine the molecular detail of how cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. If we can find ways to stop breast cancer from spreading, it could prevent the development of secondary breast cancer and save lives.

Professor Scott would like to understand if a protein, called cathepsin S or CTSS for short, could be a new drug target to prevent secondary breast cancer. The researchers are planning to investigate exactly what this protein does in triple negative breast cancer.

To achieve this, they will first remove CTSS from triple negative breast cancer cells and see how this changes their behaviour. The researchers will examine how the loss of CTSS affects cancer cells both in the laboratory and in more complex models of cancer development in mice. The researchers will evaluate the tumour’s ability to grow, spread, and establish secondary tumours in the absence of CTSS. These experiments will help researchers determine if CTSS could be a new target for drugs preventing secondary breast cancer.

What difference will this project make?

If successful, this project could lead to the development of new drugs, specifically designed to prevent triple negative breast cancer from spreading. Professor Scott believes that such drug could be used in combination with current therapies to stop people dying from triple negative breast cancer.

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